Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe

North Atlantic Ocean
LAST UPDATED 28/11/2007
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





0 km



Very Isolated, Extreme Heat

Best Months

June - August




Dobra (STD)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches, Lengthy VISA Process


The Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.

The Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is a small island nation located off the coast off the west coast of Central Africa in the Gulf of Guinea and straddling the equator west of Gabon.

It is made up of two islands only, Sao Tome Island and Principe, which are the remains of an extinct volcanic range. Sao Tome and Principe are one of the smallest African country in terms of population after the Seychelles with the amount of inhabitants running at approximatley 157,000, 80% of which are of the Christian faith.

The official language here is Portuguese.


Henryk Kotowski; Cathedral of Se; 04.01.2006

The Portuguese were the first to discover Sao Tome and Principe in the late 15th Century led by Pedro Escobar and they named the island after Saint Thomas as they discovered the island on his feast day.

The first settlements on Sao Tome were made in 1493 by Alvaro Caminha who received the land by grant from the Portuguese crown. It was found by the settlers that the volcanic soil was rich and well nourished enough to grow sugar cane and quickly turned the island into Africa's foremost exporters of sugar. However sugar colonies in the western hemisphere started to take trade away from the islands and the large population of slaves bought in to work the farms became unmanageable and the cultivation and economy fell into decline.

However, in the 19th century cocoa and coffee were introduced to the rich soils of Sao Tome by Portuguese companies and Sao Tome became the worlds biggest exporter of cocoa, which remains the countries most important crop today.

Sao Tome and Principe achieved independence on July 12th 1975. 


Husond: Equatorial Marker, Sao Tome and Principe; 2006

With such open access to the Atlantic, this region has regular surf. The geography of north west Africa tends to shield the coast from any swell with a northerly or north west component. During the winter however (June-August), large low pressure systems from the South manage to travel along the coastline and deliver regular south west to westerly swell.

The further north you travel the more attenuated this energy is but anything that arrives is often of a very superior period and very neatly stacked. Unfortunately the main swell window on this coast tends to correlate with the SW monsoon which delivers light onshore winds from about April to September. Early morning sessions are the go in the islands during this period. Make sure you go and say hello to any other surfer you encounter on this coast, as you may not see another for a very long time.


Adrian Pingstone; TAP Airlines A320; 01.2007

There is one flight a week from Lisbon in Portugal to Sao Tome, run by Portuguese Airline TAP.

If thats not convenient, there are also flights available from Luanda, Angola by TAAG Angola Airlines, these flights also serve Cape Verde.

One thing to note is that before travel you must apply for a tourist or business visa to enter the country and have at least 6 months remaining on you passport.

where to stay

Jake73; Equator, Sao Tome; 05.02.2007

A handful of hotels exist in the capital.

Near the town of Santana lies an idyllic bed and breakfast with stunning views. Opulent resorts have been built at the very northern and southern extremes of the country, on the small island of Ilheu das Rolas, and at Ilha Bom Bom off the coast of Principe.

what to pack

Tjeerd Wiersma: Mosquito netting; 2 October 2005

Pack for the hot weather if you are going in Summer.

Bring thin clothing, short sleeves, to keep yourself cool in the heat. Thongs are a must for the beach, but bring sneakers for visiting the rest of the island! It's also important to bring a cap and sunscreen to protect yourself and a backpack would come in handy for going out!

dangers and warnings

Jeff Dean; Nikon F5 Camera; 27.11.2006

Sao Tome has a very low crime rate and violent crime is almost non existent, but do remember, Sao Tome and Principe is a relatively poor country and the arrival of a tourist walking down a darken street showing off flash cameras, watches and jewellery may prove too much of a temptation for some of the locals.

In other words, use your common sense here and don't make yourself a target for rip offs. Keep personal belongings with you at all times and don't leave valuables unattended.

restaurants, shopping and nightlife

Karen L. Houle; Banana Chips; 05.09.2006

São Tomé and Príncipe use the Dobra, which is a restricted currency (the import and export of local currency is prohibited). The import of foreign currency is unlimited subject to declaration, and you may export only up to the amount you import. Travellers' cheques are generally not recommended. Some establishments require payment in USD.

In Sao Tome City, you will find produces of home made vanilla and palm oils, banana chips and sugar cane brandy among other bits and pieces you can take home a trip souvenirs.

There are restaurants and bars located in the larger hotels for an evening beer or two and to sample the local cuisines.

what to do when it's flat

Luist; Scuba divers; 24.12.2004;

When the surf completely craps out never fear, there are a few tour operators on the island that will sort you out with Scuba Diving, fishing and boat tours of the island in the crystal clear waters that are teaming with life off the coast. As when going diving anywhere, always check the equipment you are hiring for safety, make sure it doesn't look to worn and tired and get to know the instructor as much as possible before "going down".

useful phrase guide

Indolences; Standard question mark; 04.05.2007

The official language of Sao Tome and Principe is Portuguese and due to the relative lack of tourists don't expect too many of the locals to speak English. Here are a few Portuguese words to get you started:-

Bom dia           Good morning

Boa tarde         Good afternoon

Ola                  Hello/Hi

Como Esta?      How are you?

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